Born: December 11, 1965 – Ōkato
Test record: 5 Tests (1992-93) – 1 try, 3 goals (10 points)
Rugby union flanker Gavin Hill made a highly successful transition to rugby league – one of the few forwards from the then-amateur code to do so – with Canterbury Bulldogs, leading to five Test appearances for New Zealand in 1992-93.
Hill turned out for Taranaki, Canterbury and Wellington at provincial level from 1983-91 and represented New Zealand Māori in 1991. He was a something of a union unicorn: a goalkicking forward.
With All Blacks selection not forthcoming, Hill accepted a deal to switch codes with the Bulldogs and made a seamless transition into their front-row – as well as taking on the team’s goalkicking duties. The 26-year-old received a Kiwis call-up after just 11 first-grade games, scoring a try on debut in a 66-10 win over Papua New Guinea and featuring in the second-row in both subsequent home Tests against Papua New Guinea.
Suspension ruled Hill out of the 1993 series opener against Australia, but he was recalled in the second-row for the second Test in Palmerston North and kicked two goals from prop in the Brisbane-hosted decider – New Zealand’s only points in a 16-4 loss.
Hill helped Canterbury to the 1993 minor premiership and preliminary final, while he was unavailable for the Kiwis’ tour of Great Britain and France after signing an off-season deal with Featherstone Rovers.
Fledgling Auckland Warriors’ maiden signing, Hill spent the 1994 season with Waikato Cougars in the Lion Red Cup and racked up 152 points. He went to Australia with a strong New Zealand Residents squad but was overlooked for the Kiwis’ tour of Papua New Guinea.
Hill was in the front-row for the Warriors’ unforgettable 1995 premiership debut against Brisbane Broncos, though it would be one of just 14 appearances in the top flight for the club as his career stalled. He enjoyed some notable highlights in 1996, however, playing in New Zealand’s Super League World Nines triumph and in the Warriors’ reserve grade grand final loss, before representing New Zealand Māori in victories over Papua New Guinea and Great Britain.
The veteran returned to rugby union with stints at clubs in Wellington, Ireland and Canada.